BOEM to hold New York Bight offshore wind lease sale

Written by Nick Blenkey
Five wind torbines

Image: Ørsted

The U.S. Department of the Interior today announced plans for what will be the Biden administration’s first offshore wind sale. It will offer areas on the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) in the New York Bight—an area of shallow waters between Long Island and the New Jersey coast. The department says the proposed lease areas have the potential to unlock over 7 gigawatts of offshore wind energy, powering more than 2.6 million homes and supporting thousands of new jobs.

“Climate change poses an existential threat — not just to our environment, but to our health, our communities, and our economic well-being. The Biden-Harris administration recognizes the urgency of this moment, and the development of renewable energy resources is an important piece of addressing this reality,” said Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland. “Today’s announcement of new proposed lease stipulations puts a priority on creating and sustaining good-paying union jobs as we build a clean energy economy.”

Today’s announcement follows a series of milestones in the administration’s plans to advance offshore wind development, including:

  • Approval of the construction and operation of the Vineyard Wind1 project, the first large scale project in federal waters;
  • An agreement to advance areas for offshore wind off the northern and central coasts of California, the first meaningful step toward potential development in the Pacific;
  • Steps to assess potential renewable energy opportunities in the Gulf of Mexico; and
  • The initiation of the review process for two new projects, Revolution Wind offshore Rhode Island and Ocean Wind offshore New Jersey.

To date, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management has held eight competitive lease sales and issued 17 active commercial offshore wind leases on the Atlantic from Massachusetts to North Carolina.

The Proposed Sale Notice includes eight lease areas in the New York Bight that could be auctioned for commercial wind energy development. A Proposed Sale Notice (PSN) in the Federal Register today opens a 60-day public comment period and provides detailed information about potential areas that could be available for leasing, proposed lease provisions and conditions, auction details.

BOEM is also seeking feedback on several innovative lease stipulations that, it says, will reaffirm its commitment to create good-paying union jobs and engage with all stakeholders and ocean users. Some of these potential stipulations include:

  • A requirement to make every reasonable effort to enter into a project labor agreement covering the construction of any project proposed for the lease area.
  • A requirement to include a stakeholder and ocean user engagement summary as part of a lessee’s progress reporting requirements. This summary would describe existing ocean users in the New York Bight, engagement activities with those users during the reporting period, and a description of efforts to minimize any conflict between the existing users and the lessee. This provision is intended to strengthen current fisheries communication requirements and improve coordination between the lessee and fishing communities early in the planning of proposed wind facilities.
  • Mechanisms to provide benefits to underserved communities and investments in a domestic supply chain, consistent with the goals and objectives of the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act.

“The New York Bight is a prime example of how regional cooperation, partnerships, and stakeholder feedback can come together to identify areas suitable for offshore wind development,” said BOEM Director Amanda Lefton. “Today’s announcement demonstrates that fighting climate change and creating union jobs can go hand in hand.”

Comments received by the end of the public comment period will be made available to the public and considered before deciding whether to publish a Final Sale Notice, which will announce the time and date of the lease sale.

BOEM requires the submission of the required qualification materials from any bidders that BOEM has not previously qualified for a New York Bight lease sale. Qualification materials must be postmarked no later than August 13.

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